#1reasonwhy, #1reasontobe

So there’s these hashtags trending on twitter - (trend is probably over by now but hell, I can’t sleep).

#1reasonwhy there aren’t more women in game development

  1. Most women realize they’ll have to choose between having kids and having a full sized career in game development - the hours we work, the months we crunch, the surprise emergencies at work, all in the service of a game (sometimes not even a good game) - these aren’t conducive to having a family in a partnership that expects you to get home and make dinner and do 50% of the housework (if you’re really lucky or your partner is either female or very enlightened) and pick up the sick kid on short notice   I made the choice relatively early to eschew marriage and children in favor of my career - and it’s only because I met a very lovely man who is willing to be the anchor at home that we most associate with stay-at-home moms that I find myself with “everything.”  
  2. You have to have a certain kind of fortitude (or a special kind of merciful cluelessness - that’s me) to want to work in an industry where all your cultural  interpersonal female training is useless.  You have to be tenacious enough to ask questions that will be treated like “stupid questions”. You have to learn not to give way when someone interrupts.  You have to stand up for yourself and not take the crap job someone assigns you if you’re better qualified for something else.  You have to learn to delegate instead of just taking everything on like your mother the marytr.
  3. They will say you blew someone to get there.  I honestly don’t know if anyone ever assumed this about me, but I have to assume from hearing them talk about all the other women I’ve worked with that yes, that’s what they thought.  (I did fuck up a lot, but that’s different than fucking your way up.)
  4. You’ll wake up one day and discover you’re a bro in a bra. Traumatic, but (for me anyway) unavoidable.  Humans adopt the culture they find themselves in - and this works at work too. I recently decided to start dressing like a grown up lady, because while I wasn’t looking I turned 40 and started wearing flipflops and cutoffs to work. Oy.
  5. When men you respect write your linkedIn recommendations, they always mention that you can “hold your own” or “be the alpha female” or something along those lines.  They aren’t being sexist - they are your friends and colleagues who respect you and truly honestly with your career in mind are being helpful - because if some man doesn’t say it about you, you’ll go nowhere.
  6. You learn not to mention what you do for a living to guys in bars for fear of being bored to fucking death with their “revolutionary game idea” or “learned discussion of the issues of game development”.  This is minor in the grand scheme of things, but trust me, nothing makes a prospective hookup less attractive than assuming he knows how to make you better at your work. This is just plain irritating when you want to get laid.

#1reasontobe a female game developer

  1. Because it matters - games make our society better.  Yep, even those where the object of the game is to get the blood out of that guy.  What you say?  Look - even at the lowest common denominator games teach people to use technology - they teach people not to be afraid of computers. Technology literacy is increasingly the difference between middle class and poor.  They teach pattern recognition, logic, strategy, tactics, they train the eye to notice details, they train the brain to self-teach new operating systems, they teach hand-eye coordination, etc. They do all this and more in a medium that people like - that they enjoy.  What most people call game addiction I call the hunger to learn that is endemic in our species.  Do too many people sit around playing games and not getting any exercise?  Yep.  Same is true for reading and masturbating.  Games aren’t special in that way.  They are special in the way they open up new pathways in learning.
  2. Because the work is fucking awesome.  No, it’s not what most people imagine it is - we don’t sit around and dream up castles in the sky.  We work together to solve incredibly complex problems using a huge suite of talents and tools.  The best non-game development example I can think of is playing Portal 2 Co-op, except that there are 40-300 of us and the puzzle space is infinitely big and complex.  Yes, seriously, this is what gets me up every day.  It’s the best game evar.
  3. Because the people you work with are insane, genius, hilarious, amazing talented freaks. Yep, all those men we’re bitching about?  They are unquestionably the most inspiring group of men on the planet, barring the group of one made up of that Tienanmen square tank guy.  90% of my mentors have been men - the kind of guys I’d let date my little sister if she wasn’t so nuts, the kind of men I’d let date my grandmother - hell, the kind of men I’d let date my gay boyfriend.  Interesting, funny, supportive, curious, guys who want you to succeed because they respect you for the work you do and the person you are.